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University of Haifa
Professor Menachem Kellner, Dept. of Jewish History and Thought in University of Haifa, "outs" Ilan Pappe

I received the following communication , I want to share the communication and my response to it.

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"I don't know how you can tolerate walking the same floors, breathing the same air, as this vile, stupid, hateful man [i.e., Ilan Pappe].
"What possible meaning can be attributed to his claim that he 'love[s] the country I live in; I abhor only the regime that rules it.' Or his response to the fact that the Arabs attacked Israel in 1948, 'In 1948, the Zionist
movement intended to have as much Palestinian land with as few Palestinians as possible. So, I doubt it would have made any difference if the Palestinians had consented to the partition resolution.'
"If Haifa University allows a professor with the intellect to write this inane statement to teach, how good can the university be?"
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There are a number of serious issues raised here which demand a measured response. I shall do so briefly. The two biggest questions relate to freedom of speech in a democracy in general, and the nature of academic freedom in particular.

I am no first-amendment absolutist; I distinguish between allowing "vile, stupid, [and] hateful" speech on the one hand and promoting it on the other. Thus, I think that the University of Colorado probably has to put up with Ward Churchill, but that no other institution is under any obligation
to provide him with a venue to spew his venom. That other institutions invite Pappe to speak, and that Cambridge University Press published his latest lying screed, are signs of intellectual and moral corruption; that
the University of Haifa takes no formal steps against him ought to be celebrated as a sign of our commitment to democratic values. This does not mean that Pappe ought to be treated with respect and collegiality. I firmly
believe that colleagues here who provide him with venues to speak outside of his classes, who appear on the same panels with him, who treat him with more than minimal courtesy, are making a serious mistake.

In order to flourish, universities must allow researchers to research and teachers to teach. Ilan's research is a sham, and his teaching reflects that research. But, and here is a major catch, established figures in the
field of Middle Eastern Studies (including the many past and the present heads of MESA, the Middle Eastern Studies Association, and professors at prestigious universities around the world) all dispute my estimate of
Ilan's "scholarship." In my eyes, this is a mark of shame for western academe; but, despite that, to censure Ilan academically would be to undermine the entire system which enables me, for example, to research and
teach Rambam without fear of reprisal from the many rabbis who would be horrified if they know how I (correctly) interpret Rambam. In brief, we have to tolerate Ilan in order to protect Menachem Kellner! But beyond that
we have to tolerate Ilan in order to protect the principles of free expression (without which no democracy can exist) and academic freedom (without which no university can exist). Ilan Pappe abuses these principles, and ought to be condemned, repeatedly, in the strongest possible terms. But for democratic and academic freedoms to protect anyone,
they must also protect despicable people like Ilan.

Thus, in conclusion: that Haifa University allows a professor with the intellect to write this inane statement to teach, davka proves how good a university we are, one that can tolerate evil people like Ilan Pappe and
flourish despite them.


Menachem

Professor Menachem Kellner, Dept. of Jewish History and Thought,
           University of Haifa, Haifa, 31905, Israel
tel 972 4 822 7647                           fax 974 2 825 2036

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Your Responses
    1.  it is not a question of academic
     From Prof. Efraim Inbar, Sent in 18-08-2005
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